Expect the unexpected in 2024. With each passing day, chances of four major events grow – events that would fundamentally remake, or change in significant ways, the 2024 presidential election cycle. Three events relate to the Democrats, one to the Republicans.
On the Democrat side, the shape of 2024 is more uncertain than certain. The first event that seems a race against time literally, is that Joe Biden is visibly, undeniably dimming. Biden’s star was never bright, his 2020 candidacy a default position aimed at offering attractive non-action versus Trump’s zeal.
But today, indications of Joe Biden’s cognitive retreat, objective and growing disorientation, sometimes present often not, never quite sure of anything except the need to keep shuffling up to the mic, is clear.
Polls show Americans in general, not just Republicans, slipping away from support and confidence in “who Joe Biden is today,” regardless of 2020. And half the country never thought much of him anyway.
What this really means is that, speaking truth, many Democrats are looking around – some at RFK Jr., some at themselves – as alternate Democrat nominees. No one will say so, but the obvious is – obvious.
By way of corroboration for what some will think either wishful thinking or a curse, even the leading odds makers are seeing Biden’s decline as affecting the 2024 cycle. Thus, in the last six months, as odds of Harris, Newsom, Buttigieg, Michelle Obama, and RFK Jr. (a later comer) have risen, the odds of Biden being the nominee – while perhaps still favoring him – have declined markedly.
The second big event which may dramatically affect 2024 is growing awareness by Americans and even media – driven by Republican House subpoenas of Treasury and Justice – that Joe Biden was at the hub of an international pay-to-play scheme involving China, Ukraine, Romania and possibly others.
The significance of this fact, even in an “age of no accountability,” is not to be overlooked. The realization is growing that renominating a possible Nixon figure (actually far worse) could create down ballot losses is growing. Democrats interested in their own fortunes may reclaim principle, and abandon Biden.
The data continues to pour in, and while some will steadfastly refuse to believe what the documents show, it is going to grow harder and harder to trust someone who has proved himself patently untrustworthy, the clear beneficiary if not originator of an insidious public corruption enterprise. In short, do Democrats really want to nominate someone who may become an albatross?
Third, Biden’s mental decline (if any more obvious) and growing link to criminality (affecting polls) may trigger a completely different outcome, a turn intended to save face, avoid criminal action or impeachment calls, relieve AG Merrick Garland of responsibility truth, and reset the dial.
For as long as this administration has been in power – these painful, stumbling, retreating, economically and internationally disheartening 28 months – the possibility has always existed that Joe Biden would be gently persuaded, perhaps by the left-leaning nomenklatura about him, possibly Democrat leaders, to resign as an act of ultimate magnanimity – thus allowing America to be finally led by a woman.
The stutter step for many Democrats, which dates back to her poor performance in 2020 and abysmal performance as vice president, is that Harris would likely disgrace the Party, and claim the mantle. This is almost too much for many Democrats to bear, so the slow roll has occurred. Still, the possibility exists.
If Biden leaves office the way he left Afghanistan, a loser claiming victory, the result would be tumult in the Democrat Party, a race to explain, justify, and then knock Harris off the “would be nominee” list. The chaos that would result is both something to ponder, and also – not good for America.
Finally, on the Republican side of things, Donald Trump – despite healthy self-regard – is becoming a Democrat-driven victim, lawsuits, FBI actions in the Durham report, and the works generate sympathy.
Despite high negatives in some demographics, Trump is leading the field, and not by accident. The economy is a wreck any way you slice it, inflation unremitting, recession coming, spending and national debt stunning, foreign policy, national security, border sanctity, public safety, education and energy all in the tank – genuine concerns for most Americans.
This leads to the last variable, one that may lead to unlikely shifts in allegiance, forgiveness for past faults, and even a rethink – especially if Trump becomes more likable by design, evolution, or age.
The possibility exists that Trump could, with the right counsel and reflection, realign the country the way Reagan did in 1984, effectively offering policies, perspective, a record and authenticity that carry the day.
For many, these four events will seem unlikely, perhaps unsavory, even out of the range of possibility, but this column is a marker, a statement of what seems as likely as not, a sign of what may yet be. In short, an eternity exists between now and November 2024 – and into that vacuum much may be poured. Expect the unexpected.
Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman2 for AMAC.